After a brief slowdown in April, Nationwide's numbers returned to more familiar territory last month with another rise in house prices - the tenth in a row
Runaway inflation, spiralling energy costs and rising interest rates - nothing seems to dampen peoples' appetite to move house. At some point, the trend must break, but that has been commentators' call since the end of the end of the stamp duty holiday eight months ago. Yet here we are...
Nationwide's figures for May
Despite growing headwinds from the squeeze on household budgets due to high inflation and a steady increase in borrowing costs, the housing market has retained a surprising amount of momentum. Demand is being supported by strong labour market conditions, where the unemployment rate has fallen towards 50-year lows, and with the number of job vacancies at a record high. At the same time, the stock of homes on the market has remained low, keeping upward pressure on house prices.
Common sense dictates that a slowdown must come soon, but the housing market dispensed with that commodity as the pandemic took hold.
There are two strong indicators that the market is already starting to turn. Both the number of mortgages agreed and completed transactions have been declining since January.
The number of transactions in April was 13% down on the previous year, but it was still the second highest April in a decade. The drop may in part be due to the shortage of availability. Propertymark report that the although the number of houses for sale per estate agent branch has risen recently, it is still little over half of the pre-pandemic norm while demand is 60% higher.
We have yet to see when affordability will outweigh the supply-demand imbalance.
Anthony Codling, CEO at property platform Twindig, summed it up well -
“The early stages of the cost of living crisis may have taken the temperature of the housing market down a degree or two, but it certainly hasn't run out of steam. It is too early to tell the impact of rising mortgage rates and living costs on the housing market, but a slight slowing or pause for breath after a very hectic and heady couple of years may not be a bad thing.”